This commentary originally appeared in The Federalist on May 5, 2015.
Gina McCarthy is at the top of her game. In 2013, President Obama nominated McCarthy to be the administrator of one of the most unpopular federal agencies ever: the Environmental Protection Agency. She had already been working there as assistant administrator for air and radiation after being an environmental regulator in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
One thing she learned while getting her bachelor’s in social anthropology from the University of Massachusetts is that environmental policy is social policy, and this brand of social environmentalism is in favor today. Most importantly, the EPA is on board with the president’s (rhymes with bucket) list item to stop climate change.
How? By taking control of the electricity sector of the economy, which forces states and utilities to pick energy fuels by the “content of their carbon” rather than price, affordability, reliability, or any of the other metrics utilities use to perform in the marketplace. After all, one thing the president knows is how to take over major parts of the economy (see the banking system, immigration, and health care).
The Government Power Plan
Their plan is called the Clean Power Plan (CPP). And you will be made to care.
The CPP is designed to reduce carbon dioxide (yes, the stuff we all breathe out and plants breathe in) from the electric sector by 30 percent. It will cost consumers billions of dollars and, in exchange, the (secret science says) global temperature will drop by 0.02 degrees Celcius and the sea level by the equivalent of three sheets of paper. Say what?
Energy is ubiquitous. We all use it. We all use it all the time, even when we are asleep. Energy has brought us power and prosperity. Ask anyone who has worked overseas: if you care about the world’s poor, the solution is getting them cheap, reliable power.
But why is EPA picking on Texas?
Let’s Mess with Texas
Like every other state (presumably all 57), Texas will be required to change its laws to comply with this new regulation that is both, according to Lawrence Tribe, unconstitutional and based on some of that special secret science.
Texas generates 11 percent of the nation’s energy and sells it in many state markets. However, under the Obama-McCarthy plan, Texas must reduce its CO2 by 18 percent. This will result in closing 19 to 25 fossil-fueled electricity plants, including half of the youngest plants in the country. (Yes, Texas is one giant state.)
Texas emissions are actually below the national average and lower than that of 18 other states, but the EPA plan requires Texas to reduce CO2 by an amount greater than 27 states combined.
Texas, already the nation’s largest generator of renewable wind energy, would be required under the plan to increase this by 150 percent. Sounds easy, but it is not. Tax-subsidized windmills are expensive, and take up far more space than traditional oil and gas development. In the end, Texas’ renewable fleet would have to be larger than the present-day fleets of every country in the world, except the United States, to meet this demand.
This would require Texas to reduce more emissions from coal than the next nine coal-states combined, and greater than 29 states combined. Texas has half of the cleanest coal plants in the nation.
Texas has been a national leader in prosperity production, with low unemployment rates and high economic productivity. Certainly this administration, with its anemic economic record, wouldn’t purposefully try to attack Texas, would it? If it were Frank Underwood, perhaps.
The Clean Power Plan will require states to ask “Mother, may I?” when it comes to electricity production. In this case, the mother is McCarthy’s EPA office.
Doug Domenech is the director of the Fueling Freedom Project at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He is the former Virginia secretary of natural resources and deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Department of the Interior in the George W. Bush administration.